- Hardcover: 672 pages
- Publisher: Daw Books; First Thus edition (Nov 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756402190
- ISBN-13: 978-0756402198
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 4.9 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,187,898 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Good Points:
-The prologue was excellent, mysterious and gripping, and really drew me into the book. The blind king and motionless queen were very intriguing.
-Williams did a good job of creating many more questions than answers in this book so you want to keep reading to solve the mysteries. Especially at the end of the book, the world is in upheaval, all the characters are embarking on journeys, and I would like to see what happens to everybody in the next book.
-The scenes describing the Qar were interesting and well written. I especially liked the descriptions of their main stronghold, where Williams really shows off his imagination and powers of description.
The Not So Good Points:
-VERY few of the human characters were exceptional or even interesting in any way. I didn't care about these characters nearly as much as I did about those from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Otherland. Indeed, a good half dozen of the characters seem like boring remakes of characters from MS&T. Barrick and Briony seemed to me like annoying versions of Simon & Miriamele, right down to the colour of their hair! I won't bother to mention all the others...The only human I really liked was Ferras Vansen--he's such a darn nice guy. Also, Chert and Opal Quartz were pretty endearing.
-I felt that there were a couple too many POVs. It diluted the story. Especially Quinnitan's story--if Williams was going to include her, shouldn't he at least have hinted by the end of the book what on earth she has to do with anything?
-The setting of Southmarch didn't seem very interesting to me. Maybe it's because there were too many places and people named--after a while I just found it confusing. And the maps in the front of the book are hard to read. Osten Ard from MS&T was a much more appealing setting for an epic fantasy.
-Lastly, I was surprised to see that the quality of writing was inconsistent throughout the book. Usually Williams' writing sparkles--for me, anyway--but in this book, while some parts definitely kept me on the edge of my seat (for example the scene where Vansen meets the Qar woman in the forest) some parts, indeed many, were simply dull. At times when I was reading I was thinking, "hey, this is pretty good!" and sometimes I was thinking "this is boring..." there was little consistency.
In all the first volume of Shadowmarch was okay. I'll pick up the next installment when it comes out. But still, I was very disappointed in it for a book of Tad Williams, whose stuff I normally love.
If you've never read anything by Williams before I would strongly suggest picking up Memory, Sorrow and Thorn instead, starting with The Dragonbone Chair, because it's SO much better.
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